New police pursuit bill signed by Gov. Inslee

May 4, 2023, 7:04 AM | Updated: 9:13 am

police pursuit...

Around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Washington state House passed an amended version of the state Senate's police pursuit bill. (Photo By Ryan McFadden/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

(Photo By Ryan McFadden/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

Governor Inslee signed a new police pursuit law into place, rolling back some restrictions from previous laws limiting when police in Washington could engage in a pursuit.

It changes the wording of the existing law to allow pursuits if an officer has “reasonable suspicion” rather than “probable cause” of a violent crime.

Mother blames police pursuit law for death of daughter

Before the legislative session ended in April, a a police pursuit bill set to loosen restrictions for chasing criminals narrowly passed in the Washington state Senate before the 5 p.m. deadline with a vote of 26-23 despite its companion bill, House Bill 1363, failing to advance beyond the House floor.

With new amendments to the legislation, the bill would allow police to pursue a suspect if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been committed. Specifically in cases involving violent offenses, sex offenses, vehicular assault, an escape, domestic violence assaults, and DUI.

Reasonable suspicion, as applied in Washington search and seizure laws, defines as “present when the officer has an objective belief, based on specific and articulable facts.”

The previous version of the bill required ‘probable cause’ to engage in a pursuit, which needs clear and objective circumstances or evidence that suggest criminal activity.

The bill also says that officers could chase a suspect as long as the suspect poses a serious risk of harm to others.

The legislation does contain a provision that would require officers engaging in pursuit to have emergency vehicle operator training and be certified in at least one pursuit intervention option, such as spike strips.

“It’s kind of a fine line, and the way I look at it is, at what point are we going to say, you could pursue a stolen car, but do we really want to endanger a person’s life? Put people in danger? Not only the officer but the public in danger over a stolen car?” Sen. John Lovick, a Democrat representing the 44th district, the bills sponsor said. “I’m just not there yet. But I’m not saying maybe next year, we can’t come back and take a closer look at that.”

Lovick was a state trooper for 31 years and was named Trooper of the Year in 1992. In addition, he served a total of 13 years in the United States Coast Guard, including time patrolling the waters off Alaska.

Republicans and Democrats voted both ways on the bill — many arguing it was not about politics — but rather about public safety.

Representative David Hackney (D-Tukwila) voted “Yes” because of soaring crime in his district, which includes Tukwila, Renton, and Kent.

“I’ll tell you that in my district, we need police more and more as we are suffering from some of the highest property and violent crime rates in King County,” Hackney said.

Also voting a reluctant “Yes,” WA Rep. Greg Cheney (R-Battle Ground) – because he says it paves a path to the future.

“This is a bill that has to be worked on in the future, even if it is passed tonight,” Cheney said. “Vehicle thefts in this state, according to Washington State Patrol, over the last year are up 88%.”

Rep. Monica Jurado Stonier (D-Vancouver) said she reluctantly voted “Yes” because the new threshold is a game changer for many crimes, especially human trafficking.

“And that’s because the technicalities around reasonable suspicion determine whether or not human trafficking can be disrupted in my community,” Stonier said.

Inslee acknowledged Wednesday that many law enforcement groups are hoping for more changes in the future. He compared the police pursuit problem to climbing Mount Everest at the bill signing, saying it needs to be addressed step by step.

“I believe this is a step forward, a reasonable measure and balance, to ensure public safety,” Inslee said during the bill signing.

MyNorthwest News

jewelry scam...

Charlie Harger

Nationwide fake jewelry scam affects local residents

Police around the country are warning about a scam where people are selling counterfeit jewelry in parking lots, a crime spree that is occurring locally.

2 hours ago

yelm standoff...

Frank Sumrall

Two people dead in Yelm standoff involving SWAT, bomb squad

A long police standoff in Yelm ended with two people dead Tuesday night, with law enforcement a death investigation nearby could be related.

5 hours ago

king county scam...

Sam Campbell

King County Sheriff: Watch for scam phone calls pretending to be law enforcement

Have you gotten a call from someone claiming they're a cop with an arrest warrant for you? Then you may have been targeted in a local scam.

6 hours ago

bothell couple ammo boxes...

Louie Tran, KIRO 7 News

Bothell couple says neighbor threatened them by leaving empty ammo boxes outside of their home

A Bothell couple said their neighbor has been threatening them for more than half a year, allegedly leaving empty boxes of ammo outside of their home.

6 hours ago

Image: A sign for Frank Love Elementary School in Bothell can be seen in a fence at the school....

James Lynch and Sam Campbell

Alleged stalker tried to kidnap teen in front of her parents in Bothell, documents state

Court documents say a girl, 17, was standing with her parents outside an elementary school, when Fernando Rojas allegedly grabbed the teen.

10 hours ago

Image: Seattle Chief of Police Adrian Diaz, left, and Seattle Police Department Captain Eric Greeni...

Matt Markovich

‘Discriminatory practices’: Seattle police captain sues city, Chief Adrian Diaz

A longtime Seattle Police Department captain filed a discrimination lawsuit Monday against the city of Seattle and Chief Adrian Diaz.

20 hours ago

New police pursuit bill signed by Gov. Inslee